Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 Playoffs, Round 2 Pens v. Senators

The last series against the Islanders showed us; the NHL playoffs are about guts, and determination, and luck, and coaching. More than anything else, they're about clutch goaltending. You can pretty much throw the statistics away before each series. Nevertheless, I refuse to concede my inability to predict results.

This and unlabeled mages from Wikimedia Commons

You'll note that I continue to use regular season statistics rather than those from Round 1. That will be true until the Finals, when we've got enough games to constitute a reasonable sample.

Pens Goals per Game Average: 3.38 (1st in the League)
Sens Goals Against Average 2.08 (2nd best in League)

Sens GPG Average: 2.33 (27th)
Pens GA Average: 2.48 (12th)

Advantage: Pens

This is going to be an amazing series; the Penguins have the most offensively talented teams in League history right now. They're going up against the 2nd best defensive team in the League. It would be an interesting case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, except Ottawa is an extremely weak team, offensively. On paper. Statistically. During the regular season.

The truth is, any team with Daniel Alfredsson is going to score on you. We're just damned lucky Spezza isn't playing.

Pens Power Play Percentage: 24.7% (2nd)
Sens Penalty Kill Percentage: 88% (1st)

Sens Power Play: 15.9% (20th)
Pens Penalty Kill: 79.6% (25th)

Advantage: Sens 

As with the Pens offense v. the Senators defense 5 on 5, the Pens power play v. the Senators' penalty kill will match the best units in the league against each other. And while the Pens penalty killing against the Islanders was the highlight of an otherwise dismal performance, it's hardly characteristic. We're going to have a very tough time scoring on the power play. Ottawa will probably have an easier time. This means that they'll be more able to rough up our guys more than we can theirs.

It's a problem.

Vokoun's Save Percentage: 91.9% (15th)
Anderson's Save Percentage 94.1% (1st in the league)

Advantage: Sens

Anderson's save percentage is just sick. In fairness, that's only over 24 games played; he was only in for half the games this season. He severed a tendon while preparing dinner. I'd mock him, but I've done damned near the same thing. Slippery vegetables.  And of course, Vokoun, played fewer games than that. It was a short season. But "in 24 games" is the only explanation for a save percentage that high.

This is going to be an absolute dogfight, Ottawa advantages in goaltending and special teams are made up by the larger advantage the Pens have 5 on 5. You can expect prodigious hockey out of Alfredsson, but the same thing should be true of Crosby, Malkin and Iginla.

This is going to be a great series. Ottawa is a MUCH better team than their regular season record indicates. Pens in 7.